The UK National Health Service (NHS) has announced plans to provide ranibizumab across England for the prevention of blindness in preterm babies due to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).

The drug can help to save the eyesight of babies with ROP, a condition that impacts the retinal blood vessels.

It will be delivered into the eye via injection without causing scarring.

It will be offered as a substitute for laser therapy, the present standard of care for ROP.

Laser therapy involves a risk of retinal scarring and permanent vision damage and is therefore not advised for use in babies who are too ill and fragile to receive it.

Ranibizumab is currently offered for wet age-related macular degeneration in adults.

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NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard stated: “The impacts of vision loss can be absolutely devastating, particularly for children and young people, so it’s fantastic that this treatment will now give families across the country another life-changing option to help save their child’s precious sight.

“The national roll-out of this lifeline treatment for babies who are too poorly to undergo laser therapy is a vital step forward in preventing avoidable vision loss, and as we prepare to mark our 75th anniversary, this is another example of how the NHS continues to ensure that the latest and most effective treatments are available for everyone who needs them.”

In November 2022, the NHS fast-tracked the rollout of Bayer’s darolutamide for the treatment of most types of advanced prostate cancer.